Industry could save €7 billion over 10 years through resource efficiency activities

Improving resource efficiency and resource productivity could yield savings of €7 billion for Irish businesses, an EPA-funded research study has found.

Launching the report Dr Jonathan Derham, EPA said, “Improving resource efficiency and resource productivity is good for the environment and good for business. The report shows that resource efficiency can be achieved – with potential for economic benefits and job creation – through the implementation of this Roadmap, which is in line with current Government policy to promote a ‘Green Economy’.

“The EPA knows that resource efficiency works; last year alone businesses participating in EPA funded efficiency programmes identified an estimated €14 million of savings on utility costs, whilst improving productivity and reducing their environmental footprint”

The report, Roadmap for a National Resource Efficiency Plan for Ireland suggests that a target of just a two per cent reduction in material consumption spending per annum – achieved through resource efficient practices – would yield savings of about €928 million in the first year. Over an eight to ten year period, this could lead to a 25% improvement yielding a total saving of €7 billion.

Dr Shane Colgan, EPA added, “Ireland spends approximately €46 billion on raw materials per annum. These are used in factories, offices, shops and homes across the country and provide the basis of our lifestyle. Unfortunately, Ireland has one of the highest ratios of consumption to wealth in Europe – showing that we are not getting maximum productivity from our materials. Just like we aim to be energy efficient; carefully avoiding wastage means we can become ‘resource efficient’ – spending less while maintaining our standard of living.”

Commenting on the research, author Tadhg Coakley said, “A range of resource efficiency related activities are taking place in Ireland, in a wide variety of sectors, by public sector and private groups. These are driven by several Government policies and programmes, as outlined in this report, and include the EPA’s National Waste Prevention Programme; SEAI’s supports for energy efficiency and Origin Green, which promotes resource efficiency in the food sector etc . In many cases, for relatively modest investments, they are achieving significant cost savings in parallel with environmental benefits. However, Ireland can and should be doing more.”

The main finding of this independent research is that Ireland currently needs a fully integrated and comprehensive National Resource Efficiency Plan. This would involve:

  • Full cross-Government commitment;
  • Ministerial leadership;
  • A dedicated Resource Efficiency Team;
  • Sufficient resources to meet the recommended targets;
  • Full implementation of the detailed activities advocated in this study. These recommendations include the following areas: Resource Efficient Production, Recycling Economy, Research, Green Public Procurement, Life Cycling Thinking, Awareness Raising.